Need a Fresh Idea for Good Friday Service?
- Michelle S. Lazurek Author
- 2019 1 Apr
I’ve been to many church services over the several years as a Christian. This includes Easter services. Although each year it becomes increasingly difficult to do Easter in a different way, it has been also tough to do Good Friday in a new way. It seems counterintuitive to celebrate Jesus’ death.
My husband, Joe Lazurek, however; got the idea to start a service that honored Jesus’ life and journey up to His death, yet still held onto the significance of the event.
If you are a pastor or worship leader, I highly recommend trying this (or a variation of this) for Good Friday.
It is a great way to give the day the recognition it deserves, while presenting a contrast between the mournful tone of Good Friday and the celebratory nature of Easter.
Select volunteers from the congregation beforehand to read Bible passages.
Start the service with silence. Silence is reminiscent of a funeral or other somber event.
On a TV screen above, instruct congregants to please enter silently and take a seat. Let them know the service will begin shortly. Dim the lights to accentuate the mood.
Next, in the middle of the altar on the lowest step, set up a table with five 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper with seven words on them.
Divide the service into seven segments with the following words:
Place five white large pillar lit candles directly in front of each paper. Begin with a brief introduction of how the service will progress. Correlate Bible verses with the account of Jesus being arrested, beaten and crucified.
Below are descriptions of how to segment the rest of the service:
This is the first section of the service. Someone reads Matthew 26:6-26:
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So, they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
The worship team then goes up to the altar and sings an appropriate song (“Knowing You” is a good one.) One person extinguishes the candle.
This is the second segment. My husband composed a video of scenes from the Passion of the Christ. You can create videos in a similar fashion. Always keep in mind that you may need to get permission to use copyrighted video clips. You must cite your source/s for the video clip/s at the end of the video. A CCLI license might also be needed to cover copyrighted songs (like a Third Day song) if you choose to use it.
After the video, have another volunteer read Psalm 31:9-14:
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends—those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life. But I trust in you Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.”
This is the third segment. Read Mark 14:32-41:
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.”
Don’t worry about the length of each segment. Some sections may be longer than others depending on what you want to do. Let your creativity flow!
In this fourth portion, start with reading Mark 14:55-59:
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’ Yet even then their testimony did not agree.”
Select another volunteer to read Mark 15:1-5:
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So, they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they shouted. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”
For this fifth section, read Isaiah 53:1-5:
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely, he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
You may wish to show another self-made video here, or use one already created. You can overlay songs to play while the video is shown. A good song is Leeland’s version of When I Survey the Wondrous Cross featuring scenes from the Passion of the Christ.
For the sixth segment, have someone read Matthew 27:31-43:
After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
Then, as a congregation, take communion together.
Encourage participants to hold on to the cup and piece of bread until all have received it and then take it together as a congregation.
For the final segment, read Luke 23:44-46:
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.
You can close the service with another self-made video or one already created. A video called The Last Painting is a beautiful way to end. Close playing the last scene of the Passion of the Christ with Christ coming out of the tomb.
Display the words “Surely he was the Son of God.” Keep the sanctuary dark and instruct the members to exit the sanctuary and leave in silence.
Of course, the videos and songs you use can vary. By following this model – or your own inspired version – you will memorably honor the importance of Good Friday’s place in relation to Easter.
Consider holding baptisms during the Easter service. What a better way to celebrate new life than on the day designated to celebrate new life in Him!
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, writing coach, pastor's wife and mother. As a literary agent for Wordwise Media services, she is a sought-after workshop presenter at popular writers' conferences like She Speaks and Greater Philly Christian Writers conference. Please visit her website: michellelazurek.com.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Joanna Kosinska